Monday, 12 December 2011

The Light of Bethlehem

We heard last week that on Sunday afternoon the “Light of Bethlehem” would be arriving in Taizé. On further investigation it appeared that the Scouts and Guides of France, in cooperation with the Austrian Scouting movement, were bringing a flame from Bethlehem to France. This is the first time the flame has been brought to Taizé and the first time the flame has been in Saône-et-Loire. The flame was flown from Bethlehem to Vienna where it was distributed amongst various Scout and Guide movements in Europe. The French flame then went on to Paris and travelled by TGV to Le Creusot on Sunday afternoon and on by car to Taizé.

It was a chilly afternoon, but at least it didn’t rain while we waited, outside the church, for about an hour for the flame to arrive. While we were waiting we were able to look at the Nativity scene which has appeared again this year. It is a little less “flat” than last year and the wise men have moved out into the area in front of the church with their own little bit of desert,
just next to the live donkeys. Even the shepherds have their own space, appropriately near the live sheep pen.

Quite a crowd had turned up from all over the Département including as far afield as Autun and Paray le Monial, there were also some scouts from Nevers, but the scouts who had come all the way from Lebanon definitely had the longest journey. Before the flame finally arrived there was a little ceremony outside the church, then we followed the brothers in silence into the church itself to await the flame. A small group of young scouts came into the church with the flame and lit a lamp and two large candles at the front.

The little service that followed was a bit chaotic and lacked the slick organisation of the brothers, who I felt were left a little confused as to what was going on at times, but the scouts were very enthusiastic, which made up for it.

The young scouts with the flame then proceeded through the church lighting candles and lamps of the onlookers. Normally when candles are lit in the church, the congregation are given special Taizé self- extinguishing candles, but this time the vast majority of the candles were brought from home and quite frankly they were a bit dangerous to say the least. Can anyone explain to me why someone would get their baby, who can’t even sit up on its own yet, to hold a lit candle? Not to mention the father who had to hit the side of his toddler’s hair when the toddler set light to it with the candle he was wafting about? And why would you put a lit tea-light on the carpet in the church then walk away, leaving your crawling baby within inches of it? Good job someone else was on the ball to take the tea light away as the baby grabbed the side of the container. Do people lose their common sense on this type of occasion?

That aside, it was a nice idea, a sweet little ceremony and it was a different sort of afternoon out, but I don’t think I’ll risk it next time.

La Tuilerie Website

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